As Taiwan's special municipalities of Taipei and Kaohsiung begin to clear up after yesterday's elections and their excitement fades from memory, the question anyone interested in the island's political development should be asking is: what was all the fuss about? Once the dust settles on an election marked by accusations of fraud, treason and adultery, its results will make for dull reading. Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT was returned with a comfortable majority, as expected. Frank Hsieh of the DPP kept his seat in Kaohsiung, too. Both won by bigger margins than the first time around. Mr Ma retains a loyal city council in the capital for the next four years, while Mr Hsieh must still contend with an antagonistic council in the southern port city, as he has for the past four years. The victory margins can be interpreted any way the political parties want, but when both city halls open for business again tomorrow morning, nothing will have changed. No matter how they spin it, a vote for continuation of the status quo will disappoint the leaders of Taiwan's two main opposition parties, Lien Chan of the KMT and James Soong of the People's First Party (PFP). Both had been high-profile participants in the campaigns, trumpeting the polls as a mid-term judgment of DPP President Chen Shui-bian's administration. Besides the fact that the elections were being held nearly three-quarters of the way through Mr Chen's term, Mr Lien and Mr Soong were obviously stretching facts in another way, gauging public opinion to fit their own presidential aspirations. In truth, these elections counted for very little in terms of national importance. The two mayors have large resources at their disposal, which might prove helpful to candidates for the presidency and national legislature in 15 months' time. They are also members of Taiwan's cabinet, due to their municipalities' special status. But at the end of the day, they are just mayors. Their responsibilities include protecting citizens against typhoons and getting the MTR to run on time. Protecting Taiwan against missiles lined up along the Fujian coast and getting the economy back on its feet are matters to be dealt with in the presidential office and the Legislative Yuan. The 1.37 million people who voted in Taipei, and their 779,911 compatriots in Kaohsiung, understood this. If only their politicians - and the media who slavishly follow their every word - could bring themselves to the same realisation, election campaigns in Taiwan might attain a level of maturity worthy of a people that struggled so long and hard for their right to vote.